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Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2001

World Series: D’backs dandy in opener

October 28, 2001

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— Curt Schilling and his Arizona crew made the New York Yankees look like bumbling World Series rookies.

In a startling opener, the three-time champion Yankees completely broke down at Bank One Ballpark, making it easy for Schilling and the Diamondbacks to romp, 9-1, Saturday night.

"Just getting a win in Game 1 was huge," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "But I don't think there is any carryover effect from the score."

The sure-handed Yankees gave up five unearned runs the most in a Series game since 1973 and nearly all of manager Joe Torre's strategy backfired.

"A lot of my moves worked for the other team," Torre said.

The Diamondbacks, playing their first Series game, were glad to take advantage and beat a team that had won 16 of its last 17 World Series games.

Mark Grace, who had waited his whole career for this moment, led the Diamondbacks onto the field. When he hit a two-run double, it was 9-1 in the fourth inning and the rout was on.

October hero Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez homered off wobbly Mike Mussina and, backed by outstanding defense, that was plenty for Schilling.

"When Counsell hit that home run, I was getting a win or a no-decision in my mind," Schilling said.

Schilling brought high heat to the desert and improved to 4-0 this postseason. He held the Yankees to three hits, including Bernie Williams' bloop RBI double in the first, over seven innings and struck out eight.

"I feel real good I didn't throw a lot of pitches tonight. If I have to come back on three days' rest, I'll be ready," Schilling said.

Schilling began the game by standing behind the mound and saying a prayer. He also tucked a chain that his deceased father for whom Schilling always leaves a ticket when he pitches into his jersey.

Then, he went to work. Featuring a 97 mph fastball and a good splitter, he threw 102 pitches. Dating to 1993, he's won his last five postseason starts.

The last time the Yankees were held to three or fewer hits in a Series game was in 1963, when Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory.

"I know all about the history of the Yankees," Schilling said. "But I wasn't pitching against Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle today. I was pitching against these Yankees."

By the time it was over, even Mike Morgan had pitched a perfect inning for Arizona. The 42-year-old reliever had played for 22 pro teams over 24 seasons without reaching the World Series.

"I really didn't breathe easy until the final out," Brenly said. "You can't ever relax against that team."

A noisy, record crowd of 49,646 at the BOB partied all night, and the fans were eager for more. Randy Johnson, the Diamondbacks' other ace, will start Game 2 Sunday night against Andy Pettitte.

"The game got out of hand," Torre said. "We didn't pitch well enough to expect to win."

David Justice, playing in place of benched Paul O'Neill, dropped a fly ball in front of the pool beyond the right-center field fence and reliable third baseman Scott Brosius misplayed a grounder for the Yankees errors.

Williams and Justice objected to third-strike calls and Torre and bench coach Don Zimmer challenged umpires' rulings.

When Tony Womack accidentally threw his bat toward the mound after a swing in the fifth, Yankees reliever Sterling Hitchcock flipped it back with disdain at least he didn't throw at the hitter, as Roger Clemens did last year with Mike Piazza in the Subway Series.

Not exactly befitting a team with 26 World Series championships.

"We didn't really buy into the hype stuff," Brenly said. "The history of that great franchise doesn't enter into it."

In the last three years, the Yankees had rallied in the late innings to win Series openers in games started by aces Kevin Brown, Greg Maddux and Al Leiter.

This time, flustered and falling apart, they had no chance.

Counsell, the MVP of the NL championship series, homered with one out to make it 1-all.

Gonzalez, in his first Series appearance, hit a two-run homer in a four-run third. The shot brought him a curtain call, along with a cheer from home-run champion Barry Bonds in the stands.

Gonzalez doubled again to start a four-run fourth off reliever Randy Choate.

Notes: Oakland allowed five unearned runs in 1973 against the New York Mets. ... Bonds threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Introduced by commissioner Bud Selig near the mound, Bonds thanked fans for their support. ... Derek Jeter had his 14-game World Series hitting streak stopped three short of the record held by former Yankee Hank Bauer. ... Hitchcock struck out six in three innings. ... Mussina, who was 2-0 in the AL playoffs, played in his first World Series. ... Among the other longtime players making their first Series appearance: Jay Bell and Greg Swindell. ... Mussina and Schilling both pitched for Triple-A Rochester in 1990. But they weren't with Baltimore's top farm team at the same time. ... The Yankees last played in Arizona in 1951, when they held spring training in Phoenix. It was Mantle's rookie year.

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